The Holiday Gift of Being Financially Organized
What is a favorite memory you have of holiday time as a child? Maybe it was related to an event or activity rather than a gift. Or perhaps you have smells or sounds that come to mind when you think of the holidays.
I remember getting a large tricycle, a shiny red one that was big enough for me to ride my little sister standing on the step on the back. Or how much fun we had with a huge box that must have been an appliance or furniture box, and we transformed it into many things and spent many hours playing in and on it.
The “Nice” List
Fast forward to today, and I have a gift idea to suggest for women now. How would you like to sleep better at night, reduce confusion and stress, and know that you have taken care of yourself and your family? Sounds like an ad for a new drug, silver bullet pill, or miracle supplement, doesn’t it?
I should clarify that it also requires time and effort on your part, but it’s worth it. I am talking about giving yourself the gift of getting organized… financially organized. After all, it is gift giving season so we should add our own names to the list too!
Unwrapping Your Gift
What exactly does it mean anyway to be financially organized? Let’s unwrap your gift and see how it works.
Make Those Lists!
First, it means knowing what you have for financial resources because you have compiled a list (often called a net worth statement or personal financial statement). It doesn’t do any good if you know your list, and it’s in your head, but it’s never written down.
Someone else will eventually need to know what’s on that list because they will either need to help you or will need to take care of things later. Think of it like taking an inventory of your money tools. Unfortunately, most people do not have this part done.
A list can truly give you peace of mind to see and remember what all you have access to in your financial toolbox. It’s a great foundation for making wise financial decisions now, but not having a list of assets is one of the most common estate planning mistakes.
Check Your Lists Twice!
Being financially organized should also mean that you have looked at and updated (as necessary) the titles and beneficiaries on all of the listed assets you own. This paperwork process of telling your assets where to go after you are gone is too often overlooked. I call that estate planning homework.
Don’t Be Naughty (Be Organized)!
Lastly, getting financially organized means that your financial records (original documents, account statements, contracts/policies, etc.) are findable and logically organized. There are too many true stories out there about families that can’t find financial records at a time they are needed.
One of the most common stories I hear has to do with finding the will. One family couldn’t find it until months later when the house was being sold. It was found in a box labelled “Christmas Decorations” in the back of one of the closets. Another family found it in with the vacuum cleaner bags.
A fireproof safe, locked filing cabinet, or sealed letter stating where to find critical information/items might have been a better alternative in those cases.
So now answer the question, “Am I financially organized?” (1. you have an asset list written 2. your records are findable/organized logically 3. you have your estate planning homework of titling/beneficiary updates done).
All I Want for Christmas Is for You…to Get Financially Organized!
If you answered “no” to the question above, or you know someone else who could use some help/motivation in that area, give yourself (or your friend) the gift of getting financially organized.
It Really Is the Gift That Keeps on Giving
The old saying that “opportunity” is often dressed in overalls and looks like work is also true when it comes to getting financially organized. It is not a quick, one-hour project.
So, save yourself some time, don’t reinvent the wheel, and use resources that are designed to be comprehensive, fill-in-the-blank tools.
As women, we often have done a wonderful job of taking care of our family. Yet we often put ourselves on the back burner. This is one gift you can give yourself this year – the gift of organization.
You will enjoy financial peace of mind now and also find that it’s the gift that keeps on giving. This is the perfect way to continue to love your family later even after you’re gone.
Is your financial information organized? Have you created your ‘nice’ list? Are you keeping it in a safe, but logical place? Please share the best financial resources you have used to date.